The Art of Strengths Coaching

L is for Liberation Chocolate: Rehabilitating Child Soldiers

Sheikh A. Turay founded Liberation Chocolate in Liberia. Below are excerpts from its website. You can discover more via the following link.

http://liberationchocolate.com/

About

It’s a story of unbelievable hardship, courage, horror, inspiration, and hope.

After nearly two decades of civil war, ending in 2003, Liberia lost 250,000 lives and had 150,000 former child soldiers looking for a way to reengage in society.

Cocoa farming, once an economic engine and critical source of employment in this impoverished West African country, had virtually collapsed.

Enter Sheikh A. Turay, an energetic social entrepreneur who spent over 14 years in a U.N. refugee camp.

He returned to Liberia only to find destruction, despair, and economic collapse.

He committed himself to a seemingly impossible dream with little more than his intellect and energy to help former child soldiers eager to reintegrate into society by employing them to restore abandoned cocoa farms.

Liberation Chocolate

Sheikh was determined to guide and coach these young adults to become socially and economically responsible citizens and skilled, passionate cocoa farmers.

And it takes an enormous amount of aptitude, passion, and commitment to not only revive an economically sustainable industry but also cultivate and market superior cocoa beans recognized for their unique character and quality.

Some describe Liberation beans as having distinctive red berry and jasmine notes. Others cherish it for its cocoa spice and banana nut crunch profile.

Today, Liberation Cocoa is a collective of farms committed to economic and social justice and exceptional chocolate. Discover more about our social mission and the experience of our truly liberating chocolate.

Our Story

Although growing conditions are favorable in Liberia, civil unrest prevented the cocoa industry from taking root – until now.

Liberation Cocoa and founder, Sheikh Abu Turay, have been busy rehabilitating farms and harvesting rich cocoa in Grand Bass and Grand Gedee counties by employing former child soldiers, to keep them re-engaged in society.

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That’s truly liberating chocolate. And it all began with Mr. Sheikh Abu Turay, a social entrepreneur striving to help his fellow men out of poverty.

With one bag of rice in 2004, he worked with a single community to clean and revitalize the first abandoned farm for cocoa production.

Liberia

A fellow of the Unreasonable Institute, Sheikh has also partnered with Liberia’s Sustainable Agricultural Program (SAP) and the Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDFOCS) to rehabilitate and reintegrate former child soldiers (FCS) – who are now adults and parents in their 20s and 30s – through the recent implementation of the Survey, De-traumatization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration (SDRR) Program.

Once a former child soldier has completed these programs they relocate with their families to villages within 5km of rehabilitated cocoa farms in Grand Bassa and Grand Gedee.

Liberation Cocoa beans are hand sorted by these former child soldiers—all trained as custom craftsmen—ensuring only the highest quality beans are selected.

These beans are then carefully stored to prevent deterioration prior to being placed in shipping containers for travel overseas.

As we’ve continued our momentum into the farming of cocoa, we have also gained from our experienced, and visionary, U.S.-based board of directors, including leaders in the food, wellness, and financial industries.

A very special “thank you” to these exceptional people who have greatly helped guide the efforts of Liberation Cocoa.

How Can I Help?

By 2018, it is our goal to employ full-time, paying living wages, more than 1,500 former child soldiers across 80-plus reconditioned farms in Liberia.

Our efforts to rebuild cocoa production in Liberia have begun to attract crucial support and guidance from organizations such as ACDI/VOCA, the Sustainable Agricultural Program (SAP), the Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers, and the Survey, De-traumatization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration (SDRR) program.

However, we still seek help from non-profits, grants and potential investors to help us meet our goals.

If you are interested in joining the effort at Liberation Cocoa, please contact us by filling out the form below, or emailing us at:

sheikh@liberationchocolate.com

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